Spinybacked Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), League City, TX pg2

Spinybacked Orbweaver, M.T., League City TX 091908 Dorsolateral viewThis spider, for all its outwardly visible anatomical distinctions, still spins ordinary snares in the form of a very typical orb, with radial threads that converge on a hub, frame threads at the periphery, and catching threads spiraling on radials from hub to frame. The female rests, head downward, at the hub. Here the vibrating radials inform the spider's outstretched legs where prey has landed. The hard abdomen has six sharp spines that discourage birds and other predators. I have not seen this happen, but a bird that snatched one up and attempted to swallow it without first masticating it thoroughly would most likely be forced to spit it out. One bad experience with this spider would, methinks, teach a lasting lesson, as the hard spines make swallowing such a meal not only painful but nigh unto impossible. Perhaps as a result of their extraordinary defenses these spiders tend to proliferate in locales where flying insects are plentiful. Their faculty for reducing flying insects in our yards and orchards makes them beneficial to man, who, for his part, alternately blesses and curses them. A careless jaunt across a yard with an abundance of these creatures leaves both man and spider upset. Since this is a relatively pugnacious spider, close encounters may result in a painful, though otherwise unremarkable, spider bite, especially when the spider is importunely trapped between its web and a human interloper's skin. This may come as a surprise, as misguided myths concerning our orbweaving friends abound. A lecture on spiders that I recently attended was given by an entomologist who remarked that most orbweavers, this species included, are wholly unable to bite humans. That is untrue. I regularly receive reports from individuals who have been bitten by this spider. To be sure, none of these individuals suffered serious, lasting wounds. They were no worse, and usually much less bothersome, than a bee sting, and all cleared up within days. Suggestion: Walk carefully around this spider, and be thankful for the efficient capacity it has for ridding our yards of countless harmful flying insects. NEXT PAGE * PAGE MENU:   1 *  2  *  3  * 

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